Optimind Clinic

Dr Gordon Wong, psychiatrist    

What is the Difference between Psychiatrists and Psychologists?

by Dr Gordon Wong, Specialist in Psychiatry

MBBS (HK), MRCPsych, FHKCPsych, FHKAM (Psychiatry), MSocSc (Couns)(South Australia), DCPsyc RCP&S (Irel), DFM (HKCFP), Dip Med (CUHK), PGDipClinDerm (QMUL)


Whenever I tell someone I am a psychiatrist, they ask me what the difference is between psychiatrists and psychologists. It is such a common question that warrants an article specifically on this issue.

Psychiatrists are doctors who have completed a medical degree (such as MBBS or MBChB under the British system, or MD under the American system), and have subsequently undergone further specialist training in the field of psychiatry. One cannot become a psychiatrist without a medical degree. Hence, psychiatrists can prescribe medication, issue sick leave certificates and other medical certificates, order blood tests or imaging tests, and any other treatments and procedures that a medical graduate is expected to do.

A psychologist is someone who has completed training in the study of the science of the human mind and behaviour, typically a Bachelor or Masters degree. A psychologist may assess a person's state of mind using standardised tests, such as an IQ test, personality test or other tests relevant to the situation. Psychologists then render appropriate psychological therapies for improving psychological wellness. Since psychologists are not doctors, psychologists cannot prescribe medication or issue sick leave certificates in Hong Kong.

Click on the links to find out more information on psychiatrists and psychologists in Hong Kong.